A Christian denomination has reportedly kicked an Oregon church out of its network over its pastor's support for same-sex relationships.
Pastor Adam Phillips, 35, claims that Christ Church Portland was booted from the Evangelical Covenant Church less than two years after the denomination pledged to support the new church with a gift of $150,000 over a three year period, the Oregonian reported.
In a statement published on the church's website, Phillips claims that he was informed February 4 that the denomination is terminating its relationship with Christ Church Portland, though he said he remains ordained with the Evangelical Covenant Church.
Phillips, who said he is "heartbroken" over the split, claims that the reason was rooted in his "personal convictions and advocacy for the full inclusion and participation of LGBT Christians in the church at all levels of membership and leadership, receiving the same call as any other Christian would to discipleship and faith, community, fidelity in relationships."
While he believes in celibacy for those who are unmarried, Phillips also contends that gays and lesbians can follow this same ethical blueprint — a dynamic that the denomination is theologically opposed to.
Watch Phillips share his story below:
Phillips said that the denomination was fully aware of his support for gay couples and his belief that they should be permitted to wed, noting his long-time involvement with the Evangelical Covenant Church.
But, while denominational leaders reportedly urged him to remain quiet on the matter, Phillips said he had recently started speaking out more fervently about his belief that homosexual relationships can be biblical.
"The more stories I heard of exclusion — the stories of friends who experienced depression and suicidal thoughts — made me feel like I couldn't be silent anymore," Phillips told the Oregonian.
In his statement issued on the church's website, though, Phillips went even further, noting that he felt God calling him to be more vocal.
"Hearing these stories happened during a season in which I was pigeon-holed by Covenant leaders to articulate my personally held convictions once again," he said. "I could no longer keep fully silent on these matters. In fact, I heard God calling me out to speak faithfully on such matters."
Being more vocal, though, reportedly led to Christ Church Portland — a church he started back in 2013 — being cut from the denomination, which he said resulted in the loss of two years of denominational donations.
In sharing the news, Phillips said he's not trying to divide and that he's hoping, instead, to stand by his ideals.
"I share this testimony, an open letter to my Covenant friends, to live in the light of my convictions. I share it out of a spirit of love and unity, not hostility or division," he said. "I share it in the hope that in the end love and faith triumph over conflict and fear."
The Evangelical Covenant Church declined to tell the Oregonian why it had terminated its relationship with the church, though it confirmed pulling the funding.
"ECC congregations care about ministering to everyone, including the LGBT community," said spokesman Edward Gilbreath. "Decisions on any particular church plant are made between the regional conference and the ECC, taking into account a variety of contributing factors, only one of which is agreement with ECC positions."
A crowdfunding campaign aimed at helping keep the small church afloat had raised nearly $9,000 of its $45,000 goal as of Wednesday morning.